When you’ve been on a journey towards a healthy life style for a while, it’s quite common to hit a plateau. Often the best way to deal with this is to mix things up, which is exactly what Chris Smith from Eltham did.
Chris achieved a fantastic 10-stone weight loss through Slimming World a few years ago. He also quit smoking and started going to his local gym, but began to lose motivation. Soon, some of the weight crept back on and he started smoking again.
“I knew what I had to do,” Chris said, “I just needed a little motivation. I’d been going to the gym but I wasn’t enjoying it. And when you don’t enjoy something, you don’t want to keep it up!”
So when he saw a flyer about Football Fans in Training (FFIT) at his GP surgery, he knew that was exactly what he needed to carry on improving his health and fitness so he went along to the next session.
“It was great,” he said. “You do some classroom-based work on healthy eating and living healthier, then we go outside into the stadium to do some fitness work.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but it sounded a lot better than using a treadmill at the gym on my own, and it was. They’re a really nice bunch of blokes. You can have a laugh and a joke but still be sensible and take the sessions seriously because we’re all there for the same reason. We all encourage each other.”
It was this encouragement, plus a visit from a special guest, Charlton legend Bob Bolder halfway through the course, which gave Chris and the FFIT group an extra boost.
“The camaraderie between us all is great and everyone running the sessions are always willing you to do well. Bob was great, a real laugh. He gave us all some more encouragement and joined in himself. He said he’d be chasing us next time!”
Since starting FFIT, Chris has kick-started his weight loss again and is almost back to the same size he was at when he left Slimming World. But this time, he’s also huge improvements in his fitness and has learnt a lot about his eating habits, despite food not being his main concern.
He said: “I’ve been eating healthily for a long time, thanks to attending Slimming World, but now, although my plate sizes are a lot smaller, I’m still full up.
“I’ve never liked wasting food so, beforehand, if I cooked a couple more potatoes than I needed, I’d add them to my plate. Now I’ve learnt more about portion control I cook less, so I eat as much as I need to without any food going in the bin.”
After attending FFIT for a few weeks, he decided to try the walking football sessions, which are also run by CACT. They seemed like a good way to continue his hard work, despite never really being a fan of the sport.
“I’m not really a football fan, I don’t think I’d kicked a ball for about 15 years, since my son was small, but I thought it’d be a good way to build on what I’d achieved with FFIT.
And it didn’t take him long to see some results. “I couldn’t even really walk in a straight line with a ball when I first started. Now I can turn a lot quicker and my agility has really improved.
“When I used to go to the gym, as soon as I felt a tiny niggle I’d just stop my session and go home. Now, if I feel a twinge I’ll either try and walk through it or stop for a few minutes and re-join the session when I’m ready.
“All the guys tell me when I’m improving too; it’s so encouraging to know I’m not the only one who can tell I’m getting better.
His advisor Matt Phillips, who runs both FFIT and the walking football sessions, is really impressed with him.
He said: “He’s moving a lot faster now, but it’s been a pleasure to see his confidence grow. He feeds off of everyone when he gets a compliment, which really pushed him to improve. He does two walks a week too, with Greenwich Get Walking, and has recently moved up to a ramble, which is a harder session.
“Seeing him grow from someone who couldn’t walk without getting out of breath to what he’s achieving now is fantastic. He embraces everything, and captures what the FFIT is about.
“I’m really proud of him.”
As for the future, Chris will be carrying on with the walking football sessions, walking and healthy eating, with his next goal to play at a walking football tournament once his fitness increases a bit more.
“I’ve also been told about the Greenwich Healthy Families cookery courses, which I’m interested in. My next goal is to quit smoking. Matt’s told me about CACT’s stop-smoking programme, so I it’s great to know they’ll be there to help me when I’m ready.
“If anyone’s interested in getting healthier with FFIT, I’d simply tell them to go for it. One hundred per cent. The course is so encouraging and you have the chance to make new friends. It’s so much better than plodding on a treadmill by yourself. As long as it’s something you want to do, once you start, you won’t be able to stop!”